It won’t be out of place to say cheating is part of human nature; perhaps it’s in the psychology of man to want to cheat. But in an attempt to double-deal, many are held back by forces of morality, conscience and religious moral teachings. That is why these teachings are advocated, thought early in life and impacted in the young ones, such that they grow up to appreciate the virtues of living an honest, clean life devoid of deceit and duplicity. What, therefore, happens when a society covertly encourages one to cheat, or the cheat is never apprehended, or the society looks the other way when infractions are being committed?
In the world of sports in particular, cheating is derided and always met with stiff penalties. Despite frequent tests carried out on sportsmen and women, athletes especially, those of the US have consistently escaped international doping scrutiny. Many attribute this to the sophistication of their doping network and America’s influence and leadership in world politics which rub off positively on their athletes. Nigerian sportsmen and women also cheat in the age-group football competitions, but the country pays dearly for it. A 25-year old would claim to be 18 years. When he’s expected to reach his peak at 23-25 years, he would be declining, because at that time, he would have been 30 years and above.
One could recall great names like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, Gail Devers and the most sensational of all, Marion Jones, whose ravishing beauty and track control was enough a reason for people to want to watch her run. Not to talk of the legendary Florence Joyner whose record has remained unbeaten in Olympic history. Then, the cookies began to crumble, with the discovery that all of Marion Jones’ sensational and superlative performances were a result of discreet doping. As interesting as their sporting victory is, once it’s found to have been influenced by drugs, it becomes dishonourable and a disgrace for the athlete.
Cheating also goes against the grains of one of Olympics’ themes of “inspiring a generation” As sophisticated as the US doping ring was, advanced technology has begun to unravel the lies behind their victory. At the Olympics and other athletic meets, from one victory to the other, US athletes became the envy of many a watcher of sporting events.
However, in the last two Olympics, the Jamaicans have taken control of the tracks, with the Americans trailing behind in most high-pitch events like 100, 200 and 400 metres.
For those who do not follow the honest and narrow way to success, the red flags are up. Lance Armstrong, whose name is synonymous with cycling has been banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after it was discovered that all his past laurels were fraudulently acquired through doping, in what the US Anty-Doping Agency called, “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. Armstrong was said to have used steroids, the blood booster, erythropoietin (EPO), and blood transfusions and was finally nailed by testimonies by 11 teammates.
Marion Jones’s sensation and descent
As it is with Armstrong, so it was for Marion Jones, who at the Sydney Olympics, “raced into the history books as the first woman to claim five medals in a single tournament, three of them gold”. Eight years after, Jones was no more. All the records, the history, the medals, the money and the glory were gone. She had to serve a six-jail term, all due to steroids abuse and perjury. She was stripped.
Jones admitted her ‘shame’ and retired from sports. Armstrong has not, although, the cycling’s world governing body (UCI) has accepted the verdict and would not appeal. Part of UCI’s president Pat McQuaid’s declaration reads: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling. He deserves to be forgotten”.
The paradox of Nigeria’s heroes
This is how it should be. There should be no place in history for those who use foul means to achieve their goals. Unfortunately, as the world celebrate Armstrong’s fall, here in Nigeria, our sportsmen and women who cheated are celebrated, our politicians who rigged their way into office are celebrated, honoured and given awards. We the ordinary citizens also cut corners, beat the laws, and thrive in the illusion of lies, and claim success of it.
Demolition saga and NASS’s deceit:
Reflecting on the Armstrong case brings to mind last week’s imbroglio over the demolition of 500 housing units belonging to Minanuel Estate. All the parties in the controversy—the FCT, the estate developer and the subscribers—have been trading accusations against each other, but many are telling bare-faced lies and they know it. This can only happen in a lawless society like ours, where out-smarting one another is a never-ending race.
When the National Assembly joint committee on the FCT led by Senator Smart Adeyemi first visited the estate, he was shocked about the illegality of allowing Minanuel Estate to develop a place already allocated to the National Assembly members and other Nigerians. Then, the development control department of the FCT swung into action and began the demolition of the place. After the outcry that followed, the same National Assembly ordered stoppage of work. Can you spot the deception, even by the country’s highest law-making body?
If the truth must be told, land grabbing and double allocation, etc, have become part of Abuja, but because the latest case involves the elite and the so-called mass housing programme, a lot of fuss is being created around it. From the mass estate developer who first grabs the land, and seeks to legalise it later, to the FCT officials including successive ministers of FCT who collect huge bribes from mass housing developers and those seeking to own plots in the nation’s capital, to ordinary subscribers who buy plots (instead of completed houses) from mass housing
developers, we are all guilty. In the case of the estate in question, it could be, the land’s document were approved by fake land syndicate in AGIS, and it’s possible the developer knew his papers were not genuine, yet, he went ahead, and sold a dummy to unsuspecting subscribers, who wittingly paid for plots and began sinking their money into the buildings, whereas they ought to have paid for the houses to be delivered to them.
Is any party truly innocent in the description above? You be the judge, but the point being made is that the cheating games at the sporting arena have their limitations and the watchdogs are developing new ideas and technology to curb it no matter how long it takes. Any limit to our own infractions?